Kate Middleton and Prince William, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who married April 2011 as billions watched, have confirmed with an official statement that they’re expecting their first little heir together.
The palace released a statement confirming the pregnancy. Making true the rumours of the past few weeks that the British royals would “make an announcement shortly before Christmas” (rumours that appeared to be hearsay at best and conjecture and worst). But the “rumours” were true, and the official statement says Middleton’s currently suffering health complications with the pregnancy for which she was admitted to a London hospital where her husband already visited and where she’s expected to stay for a few days.
The royals gave the name of the hospital, King Edward VII Hospital in central London, along with a prognosis of “acute morning sickness” known as Hyperemesis gravidarum.
But what is Hyperemesis gravidarum? In short, “Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that is different from the more common nausea and vomiting known as morning sickness” it’s ”an extreme form of morning sickness that can lead to weight loss, malnutrition and electrolyte disturbance.”
BBC Health says it can “persist past the first trimester of pregnancy. It typically subsides by week 21 of pregnancy, but can last much longer.”
The symptoms include: “[Weight loss], usually over 10% of their body weight, and feeling tired and dizzy… The danger is dehydration, as it is in any situation where fluid is lost from the body and not adequately replaced. Dehydration may cause symptoms that include headache, palpitations and confusion. There is also a risk of nutritional deficiencies.”
So far as what causes it, whether you can prevent it, and whom it affects: “Hyperemesis gravidarum is believed to affect up to one in 50 women in pregnancy. It tends to be more common in young mothers, women who are in their first pregnancy, and those with multiple pregnancies. It’s also more common in non-smokers, although this isn’t an excuse to smoke during pregnancy. The precise cause of hyperemesis gravidarum isn’t known… Because the cause is not yet really understood, it’s not possible to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum occurring.”
There is hope for treatment: “In the early stages, many women with hyperemesis gravidarum will be advised to rest, eat bite-size pieces of dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed, and have frequent, small meals. Fried or spicy foods, or smells that trigger symptoms of nausea and vomiting, are best avoided. Some women benefit from eating ginger or foods containing ginger, such as ginger biscuits and crystallised ginger, or drinking ginger herbal tea. Acupressure may help: press a finger or thumb against the inside of the wrist or wear an elastic wristband with a plastic button sewn into it. [Or] a doctor may recommend anti-nausea medication.”
So why would it cause Middleton to be hospitalised, and will she and the baby be okay? “When symptoms are severe, admission to hospital may be needed for observation and to treat dehydration with intravenous fluids. This usually only means a few days in hospital. Reassuringly, research has generally shown no long term harmful effects in milder cases. But in more severe cases (which are fortunately fairly rare) there is a risk of complications for both mother and baby, especially if the problem isn’t recognized and treated early. These include premature labour and pre-eclampsia.”